Monday, March 30, 2015

On the Banks of the Nila

The river Nila flows like a silver sliver
Across the very heart of central Kerala.
Shokanaashini, Destroyer of Sorrows, she is called
On her banks, lies a holy spot
Where the Pandavas, weary from the wounds of war,
Burdened by guilt,
Grieved the deaths of their kith and kin;
Deaths, they had knowingly caused at Kurukshetra.
Nila cleansed them off their sins
And delivered them from their sorrows,
By bestowing salvation upon the wandering souls of the long departed.
And so, many years later, we arrive at the same spot.
A priest, tugging at the sacred white thread across his chest,
Recites mantras from the ancient scriptures.
We take numerous dips in the river,
Our teeth chattering from the bitter cold of dawn,
Just as the first rays of the sun
Slowly appear on the distant horizon.
The eldest son dons a pair of wooden sandals.
He takes seven steps forward.
This is the journey to that great land of Kasi,
Where souls are finally liberated from the traps of rebirth.
He has gone to leave my grandpa there.
Then he takes seven steps backward,
His duty, as the eldest son, done.
We toss the X rays, prescriptions, and medical reports,
Cruel reminders of the fragility of life.
We empty the urn off its ashes, and let them afloat.
They will ultimately meet the Ocean at Ponnani
And dissolve into nothingness.
White balls of rice, dotted with black sesame seeds
Wait upon the green banana leaves.
'Caw, caw, caw!' we go around clapping
A murder of crows flies across the skies,
Refusing to acknowledge our presence.
'Caw, caw, caw!', we persist.
A lonely crow finally deigns to respond
To our fervent pleas.
It swoops down and knocks off a rice ball
Before flying away with a bit of rice
Safely secured in its beak.
We slowly trudge our way back,
Armed with nothing, except memories of a life well lived
We go back to our jobs,
Back to our own daily trifles and struggles,
Back to the world.
And that's all there is to this funny thing we call life.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Solace

Solace is...

Taking in the sweet fragrance of the incense sticks at the altar and watching the smoke swirl its way to the heavens, carrying with it tears, pleas, and prayers.

Listening to the Yesudas version of 'Harivarasanam' just as you drift into the land of sleep.

The stillness and silence of meditation.

Listening to the croak of frogs on a dark night, after an outburst of rain, thunder, and lightning.

Burying your nose deep into a book and catching a whiff of the faint vanilla fragrance that lurks within the pages.

Stumbling upon snatches of strangers' conversations in your mother tongue, far away from the homeland.

A hot cup of chai as you watch the world go by.

Knowing that someone cares.

Monday, March 30, 2015

On the Banks of the Nila

The river Nila flows like a silver sliver
Across the very heart of central Kerala.
Shokanaashini, Destroyer of Sorrows, she is called
On her banks, lies a holy spot
Where the Pandavas, weary from the wounds of war,
Burdened by guilt,
Grieved the deaths of their kith and kin;
Deaths, they had knowingly caused at Kurukshetra.
Nila cleansed them off their sins
And delivered them from their sorrows,
By bestowing salvation upon the wandering souls of the long departed.
And so, many years later, we arrive at the same spot.
A priest, tugging at the sacred white thread across his chest,
Recites mantras from the ancient scriptures.
We take numerous dips in the river,
Our teeth chattering from the bitter cold of dawn,
Just as the first rays of the sun
Slowly appear on the distant horizon.
The eldest son dons a pair of wooden sandals.
He takes seven steps forward.
This is the journey to that great land of Kasi,
Where souls are finally liberated from the traps of rebirth.
He has gone to leave my grandpa there.
Then he takes seven steps backward,
His duty, as the eldest son, done.
We toss the X rays, prescriptions, and medical reports,
Cruel reminders of the fragility of life.
We empty the urn off its ashes, and let them afloat.
They will ultimately meet the Ocean at Ponnani
And dissolve into nothingness.
White balls of rice, dotted with black sesame seeds
Wait upon the green banana leaves.
'Caw, caw, caw!' we go around clapping
A murder of crows flies across the skies,
Refusing to acknowledge our presence.
'Caw, caw, caw!', we persist.
A lonely crow finally deigns to respond
To our fervent pleas.
It swoops down and knocks off a rice ball
Before flying away with a bit of rice
Safely secured in its beak.
We slowly trudge our way back,
Armed with nothing, except memories of a life well lived
We go back to our jobs,
Back to our own daily trifles and struggles,
Back to the world.
And that's all there is to this funny thing we call life.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Solace

Solace is...

Taking in the sweet fragrance of the incense sticks at the altar and watching the smoke swirl its way to the heavens, carrying with it tears, pleas, and prayers.

Listening to the Yesudas version of 'Harivarasanam' just as you drift into the land of sleep.

The stillness and silence of meditation.

Listening to the croak of frogs on a dark night, after an outburst of rain, thunder, and lightning.

Burying your nose deep into a book and catching a whiff of the faint vanilla fragrance that lurks within the pages.

Stumbling upon snatches of strangers' conversations in your mother tongue, far away from the homeland.

A hot cup of chai as you watch the world go by.

Knowing that someone cares.